Transport and movement of animals during the COVID-19 pandemic (4/1/2020)

Transport and movement of animals during the COVID-19 pandemic

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Shelter Medicine Program, University of Florida Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program, University of California- Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, Cornell Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program, Humane Canada, The Association for Advancement of Animal Welfare, Association of Shelter Veterinarians, Ontario Shelter Medicine Association and the Association Vétérinaire  Québécoise de Médicine de Refuge endorse the following statement and recommendations for animal movement by shelters, agencies and rescues during the COVID-19 pandemic.*

NOTE: Every exception to social distancing decreases its efficacy.

Implement social distancing in effort to decrease the rate of human patients in need of hospitalization and critical care. The key request coming from our governments and health advisors is for people to stay at home and limit travel, with exceptions made only for the minimum needed to carry out essential functions.


  • Discontinue travel outside of your community  for routine transport.
  • Transport should not be utilized as a means to continue non-emergency shelter intake. All shelters, including transport source shelters, should limit intake to only emergency situations (e.g. sick, injured, dangerous, or endangered).
  • Transport should only be considered when a source shelter lacks the capacity to provide appropriate care for an animal that has been admitted on an emergency basis.
  • Before transporting animals, make sure all opportunities to find care for them within the community have been exhausted. Transfer between shelters in the same community and delivery for foster care or adoption is encouraged because it promotes live releases while maintaining recommended social distancing guidelines.
  • If local options have been exhausted, transport partners should observe the same precautions for maintaining social distancing and limiting personnel exposure as have been developed for release of animals to adoption, foster etc.
  • DO NOT transport to states or communities that have specific travel restrictions. Be respectful of COVID-19 related orders in each state and municipality.
  • Not every service or function of a shelter is essential. It is our obligation to reduce our activities.

When intake is decreased to emergencies only, the capacity to find a lifesaving outcome within the community is increased. This is why it is so essential to follow NACA guidelines for intake reduction and call response.

*This is a summary of a document that can found in full at

For additional resources on responsible transport for emergency situations, refer to

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